New Tunes Review: Beck’s Morning Phase

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image from Wikipedia

Every so often there comes along an album that makes you close your eyes and slowly drift into a calmly pensive state, unburdened by stress and responsibility.

I believe that Beck’s Morning Phase is that album.

Released as a “follow-up” to 2002’s Sea ChangeMorning Phase is wonderful.  30 seconds into my first listen and I was already convinced.  Sea Change is one of my favorite sad and pensive albums.  It is full of heartbreak and mourning but with elements of hope.  Morning Phase follows the same tone.  The acoustic melodies strum slowly through Beck’s melancholy lyrics. Violins and harmonic background vocals create a lush yet delicate sound. It is hard to know what exactly Beck was going through when writing and recording this album but I feel his emotions as deeply as my own.

I was immediately drawn to “Heart is a Drum,” “Say Goodbye,” and “Blackbird Chain,” but each track has interesting elements. Morning Phase works both as a “sequel” to one of the most beautiful albums of the 2000s and as a stand-alone journey through Beck’s psyche.

As the album glided along, I inadvertently found myself leaning back in my desk chair, imaging a warm and hazy sun radiating from the clouds. The view was much better than my current scenery, full of dirty ice mounds and slushy street corners.  It was sensational.

The album officially comes out Tuesday, February 25th but you can listen now via NPR’s First Listen: Beck’s Morning Phase 

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Links List: Jan 24 + new singles from The Both & The Hold Steady

Some tracks from upcoming albums were released online.

Links List: November 1, 2013

This is the first installment in a new weekly feature called “Links List.”

As the name suggests, each Friday I will post an assortment of links from the past week.  Its a sort of “In case you missed it (ICYMI)” post.  From band announcements and interviews to nonsensical news and comedic videos, there should be something for everyone. There may even be some educational links thrown in.

Dive in, catch up, and click away!

  • Beck announced a new album.  It will be a companion to Sea Change, his seminal acoustic album from 2002.  Its one of the most breathtakingly sad albums ever. I absolutely cannot wait for this release.
  • CRISIS AVERTED!!!.  Don’t worry everyone! There won’t be a shortage. Sriracha for all!

And, follow me on twitter: @alf_attack.

 

List: Best Concerts of the Year, Part 1

2012 was filled with a lot of great concerts.  From reunions to straight up rocking performances, this is a list of some of the most memorable ones this year (in no particular order):

Archers of Loaf  (April 26, Bowery Ballroom)
These North Carolina-based indie rockers first broke up in 1998, which means they were around before  I listened to good music.  Having recently discovered them, I was very unsure how I, as a causal fan, would blend in with their hardcore fans. I found that their live set was accessible. They had so much energy and really focused on a lot of the better known (to me) songs.

Governor’s Ball 2012 (June 24, Randall’s Island)
This year, organizers decided to split up the genres into two separate days.  On Saturday, all of the electronica acts performed. Sunday was full of the more indie-rock bands.

One of the highlights of Day 2 was Explosions in the Sky, an all-instrumental group who famously provided the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights. Fiona Apple was back in action with her unique brand of angst-female rock. Modest Mouse played a variety of songs from their many, many albums. Beck played through the rain and closed out the night will an energetic set that spanned his entire career.

Overall, the festival was a great experience.  It was extremely well organized and the location had many shaded areas to take a break from the heat.  Because the genres were split into two days, the crowd was friendly and meshed well with each other.  I am hoping they draw great bands next year so I can attend for the 2nd year in a row.

Japandriods (June 27, Bowery Ballroom)
This two-person Canadian band packed a lot of punch and energy into their set.  The opener was Cadence Weapon, a Canadian rapper, who really pumped the crowd up for the headliner. Check out their album, “Celebration Rock.”  It is one of the best albums of the year.

Dinosaur Jr. (December 1, Terminal 5)
With less-than-perfect sound and a large number of obstructed views, I was not looking forward to this concert. But opener Kurt Vile’s brand of freak-rock laid the groundwork for an excellent show at one of the most hated venues in NYC.    
To start off Dinosaur Jr’s set, they played “You’re Living All Over Me” in its entirety.  This truly great album actually sounded great in this former warehouse/dance club.  For the second part of their set, they played a variety of songs from their entire career.  They also brought special guests on stage like Frank Black, who played Pixies’ classic “Tame” as well as a Dinosaur Jr song.  Johnny Marr (of the Smiths) came up for a few tracks.  The band played “A Boy With A Thorn in His Side,” to which the entire crowd sang along.  Kim Gordon closed out the set with a incredible version of “Don’t.” Tommy Stinson (of The Replacements) and Fred Armisen came out for the encore and did a few songs.